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Ever wondered about the power of location data, the difference it can make or the increasingly diverse ways it can help different industries? Alongside working directly with customers, Mapmechanics has published a series of research pieces that highlight the uses and benefits of locational data, using HERE Data Lens to show off the research.
Data Lens is a tool that enables organisations to turn data into visualisations quickly and effectively, and Mapmechanics used it to great effect when demonstrating the importance of location analysis with regards to company mergers.
“Geography powers a vast amount of decision-making, and should power even more than it does today,” says David, explaining why location analysis is such an important tool. “We use location in everything from our smartphones and finding the nearest coffee shop, to the collection of statistical information on who’s going through station turnstiles with pre-payment, debit or credit cards. Data is all pervasive.”
That results of geospatial analytics can be as simple as numbers in a spreadsheet, but when it’s presented to companies using tools like HERE Data Lens it can be a lot more powerful. As American artist Kenneth Noland said, “for me context is the key – from that comes the understanding of everything”. In other words, “context is everything”.
“Human beings are visual creatures,” adds David, “and according to the Social Science Research Network, we process information based on what we see, with 65 per cent of us being visual learners.”
Mapmechanics highlighted the geospatial relationship between betting shops and the merger between UK bookmakers Ladbrokes and Gala Coral to show just how much difference location analysis can make, using Data Lens to reveal how the merger could affect competition in certain locations. The map visualised stores within 400 and 800 metres of rivals, highlighting areas of likely consolidation due to the merger.
“The gambling industry has seen a number of high profile mergers and acquisitions (M&As) recently but who we are really targeting with this research are the investment bankers and private equity investors to demonstrate how astute event-based investors can benefit from location analytics. This type of location intelligence can be relevant to almost any sector and can drive smart real-time and long term venture strategies.”
In short, it can help organisations to make strategic decisions. Location analysis for businesses is nothing new – David explains that companies have been using it for years, especially for retail site location – but tools like Data Lens do make it a whole lot easier to show off the results.
“Data Lens allows you to share information in an easy, low cost way. Depending on the company, skillsets and enterprise software they have, they may be more than happy with an Excel spreadsheet with some statistics, but we want to visualise the data in a meaningful way. Data Lens is a really fast, easy-to-use platform, and it ideally lends itself to showing the exact location of every site on a street with a map you can zoom and click to get more information.”
The aim of the research was to show the wider banking industry how they should be leveraging geography more, adds David. “Some equity research divisions within the multi-national banks do have an understanding, but some of them don’t have time and they’re not experts, so we’re looking to provide dedicated analytics teams that will be able to crunch the data, put it onto Data Lens and get some quick headline numbers. It’s headline numbers that they’re interested in.”
M&As are just one part of the picture for Mapmechanics, though, with the company showcasing location awareness across a diverse range of industries, including studies for national newspapers.
“We did a piece for the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK, looking at the proximity of fast food outlets to primary and secondary schools. We used a walking time catchment around the schools using a HERE road network to calculate these quantities. We proved that it’s actually gotten worse, with a higher number of fast food outlets appearing around schools in recent years.”
UK pharmacies are next on the radar for Mapmechanics, and David adds: “There’s lots of talk about reducing the number of pharmacies on high streets around the country, and there are currently lots of clusters in some parts of the country.”
“The government is looking at reducing costs and the density of pharmacies in selected locations subject to certain criteria, so we’ll be rerunning the analytics on pharmacies to see how this will affect certain pharmacy chains, based on their store estate footprint.”